Students ‘light up’ for a good cause

Linfield students are lighting up for a good cause. No, this student-initiated project doesn’t involve smoking, but walking door to door in McMinnville, asking if they can change people’s light bulbs. For free. Without a catch.

Their goal? To replace the town’s incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient compact fluorescents.

A “Light Up McMinnville” effort last fall drew 80 students, and organizers are shooting for 90 this January. They will fan out across town carrying light bulbs in donated reusable shopping bags through rain, drizzle, fog and cold.

“The good thing about bad weather is that people are home,” said senior Duncan Reid, who initiated Linfield’s student environmental organization, Greenfield. “The bad thing about bad weather is that we get wet.

“Many students initially get involved because they like the volunteer aspect and it’s a concrete action they can take to support a healthy environment,” Reid said. “But students end up liking it because of the people they interact with. It’s an excuse to talk to strangers, and we don’t often get that.”

Reid says after residents figure out students aren’t up to something suspicious or selling anything, most are grateful, and some even offer food.

The project is a collaboration between Linfield students and McMinnville Water & Light, and for every bulb replaced, students earn a $2 energy credit to be applied toward solar panels on campus.

“McMinnville wants to see more conservation because we are running out of cheap hydro power,” said Reid, who rides a bike to campus and wants to put his environmental studies degree to work concentrating on issues like renewable energy. “Using more energy efficient bulbs is good for them and it’s good for residents, who can save 75 percent on their light bill.

“Sustainability doesn’t have to mean making huge lifestyle changes,” Reid said. “Taking small steps can lead to big results. Sustainability is being aware of your surroundings, being intentional about your actions and being aware of their consequences.”

“For every problem, there’s an opportunity to make a change for the better. We realize that this is something within our reach. It’s possible to make a difference.”

Linfield students were recently recognized for their sustainable activities in the National Wildlife Federation’s report, “Generation E: Students leading for a sustainable, clean energy future.” The report highlights 165 campuses in 46 states.

The project was featured on FOX Channel 12 and KOIN Channel 6. The Carbon Capture Report, Dalles Chronicle, McMinnville News-Register, KLYC Radio and McMinnville Community Media also carried the story.

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